CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Indians catcher Yan Gomes began the 2017 regular season trying to find his rhythm at the plate after two consecutive injury-riddled years saw him miss more than 150 games for knee and shoulder issues.
But as of late, Gomes is starting to find himself at the plate, and it could not have come at a better time for the Indians, who have struggled to produce runs over the last two weeks.
In his last 14 games, Gomes is hitting .378 with one home run, four runs batted in and four doubles. In Tuesday’s 6-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre, Gomes went two for three with a three-run home run and two runs scored.
“It’s just been a lot of work inside, man,” Gomes said on the Indians Live postgame show. “Ty (Van Burkleo), Q (Matt Quatraro) and a couple of the players have helped me out a lot about having a good approach and just getting a good pitch to hit and not trying to do too much. I’ve done that before, and it’s just a matter of just being calm and getting a good pitch to hit.”
The Indians made sure the outcome was not in doubt Tuesday when Gomes, a former Blue Jays catcher, crushed the three-run home run into the seats behind the Toronto bullpen in left field in the top of the eighth inning.
With left fielder Brandon Guyer and right fielder Abraham Almonte on base via a hit-by-pitch and single to right field respectively, Gomes smashed the first pitch he saw from left-handed reliever Aaron Loup over the wall for his second homer of the season.
“It’s so nice to see, and I know his average is climbing and wasn’t where he wanted it or probably wasn’t where he wants it, but the last two-and-a-half weeks, he’s been back to being more like Gomer,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
“And that’s really good to see because we’ve had a road trip where we, as a club, haven’t been swinging it, and we’re surviving this trip. It wasn’t where we want, but when we get guys going, it’s really going to help, and Gomer looks more like himself.”
According to Francona, Gomes is doing a better job of “giving himself a chance more often” to catch up to fastballs, which he faced a steady diet of from opposing pitchers over the first month of the season.
“He’s taking better passes at the ball, whether it’s hitting the ball to right field, and then, when he gets something, he drive the balls down,” Francona said. “That looked like the Gomer of old. He got something down and drove it out of the ballpark.”
Until Gomes’ home run in the eighth inning, the Indians were in line to finish the game with three runs or less for the eighth straight outing. But despite those struggles, the Indians have still won four games away from Progressive Field and maintained their advantage at the top of the American League Central Division.
“Honestly, it just makes us that much better, man,” Gomes said. “If people don’t think we’re scoring enough runs, we’re scoring just enough to win ballgames, and that’s all that matters. Our pitching staff has done an amazing job. Once everyone starts clicking, then we’ll be having a different conversation. Our pitching staff has kept us in a lot of ballgames, and we’re scoring just enough to win.”